One of the things I’ve found while trying to fix the gaps in my memory is that for a period of time I blocked out all the music I used to listen to before my first breakdown. I would listen to old music but not the music I loved before I turned 21. That changed a few years ago when the old tunes came flooding back and I’ve spent an enjoyable time revisiting these old bands and songs that made up part of the old me.

My oldest school friend helps with this. We were practically joined at the hip in our teenage years and where I went she did and if we didn’t go to a concert together then we would be on the phone at the first available moment to impart every bit of what the other had missed. It’s funny where I now have a terrible memory she has an almost photographic memory and can remember everything. She’s a good person to have around on this journey in many ways.

This week we went to see a band in concert – Then Jerico – who were a big part of our youth but before over dinner we were chatting about other gigs we’d been too. She asked me if I remembered seeing The La’s and Miltown Brothers in the venue we were going to later. As usual it’s a no. I’m not sure how you could forget seeing such an iconic band such as The La’s but hey that’s what I have to deal with. The words Miltown Brothers just conjured up a lilac colour that baffled me until the next day. A quick tour around ebay and you tub reveals an old 12 inch vinyl in lilac, matching exactly the colour in my head. What amuses me more is that despite not being able to remember the band or concert I instantly remember the words to three singles when I play them on you tube! It’s nearly a week later and I’m still singing one of them…

But Then Jerico, they were our boys. I’ve vague flashes of concerts past always standing if possible in front of Rob Downes, the guitarist. Not sure why now as I always liked the other guitarist that always stood on the other side of the stage. But they had their way of doing things and so did we. Last year they reformed for a small tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of their best selling album so we had our own reunion and went to see them. The band and fans enjoyed themselves so much they’re repeating it again this month. Seeing them last year was a shock; they were OLD! Granted I’ve aged 25 years as well but you never expect your heroes to actually age. They should stay youthful forever, although I’m pretty sure the lead singer is giving that mission a good go 🙂 Regardless of beauty battles both last time and this there is no faulting their musicianship and stage presence. They were always a fantastic live act and despite the tears and tantrums that split them up for decades this hasn’t changed a bit. Everyone seems to be having a good time.

I worried when we first found out about the tour last year because of the small size of the venues but reflecting after two shows I think the smaller setting suits them well. There is still room for Mark, ever the showman, to strut his stuff but the intimacy allows him to also show off his personality, cracking jokes and telling stories. In his own words, he could make a living as a crap comedian. The others join in too, something I don’t think they ever had the opportunity to do before.

One thing that amuses us both is the amount of gyrating going on. Neither of us were ever big fans of his so front row grinding tends to be a bit off putting. I’ve just eaten; get out of the way and let us concentrate on the muso’s. Incidentally what is the fascination with staring at each others guitar strings while you play?? I’ve never understood that one.

The gig ends with Mark in the crowd. The lack of barrier allows him to relive his own teen idol youth in the encore by basically singing in the crowd and hugging at least 90% of the audience. He’d spent the evening acknowledging a guy in a wheelchair and I found it a very sweet thing when he made sure the guy was included in the hugging session and sing-along.

Hopefully these trips down memory lane for the band will eventually lead to some new material or at least the ability to continue as they are doing although as two of them now live abroad it may not be possible to be as frequent. It’s nice to re-live your youth now and again. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to fully remember the bits I’m re-living 🙂

“Living ain’t always easy

It’s a fine life”

Muscle Deep – Then Jerico


Memory Lane

I went to Manchester to see a band I used to follow 25 years ago as a teenager. I had a few hours to kill before meeting my old partner in crime so I got to have a wander round some old haunts.

I lived here for just over a year in 1990-91 and it’s the place of many of my blocked memories. The site of so many happy events I can only touch on fleetingly. There on the tip of my mind so tantalisingly out out of reach. I’m hoping the walk will unlock a few.

I arrive in the middle of a rain storm, hail the size of golf balls, lots of thunder & lightening. Storms I love but I find that I’ve arrived on the evening of a parade for Alex Ferguson, legendary Manchester United manager, is having his retirement parade. Born & bred in Leeds, there has always been a rivalry between the two football clubs and it’s hammered into you at an early age to have Man United. Leeds fans are quite vocal. The only other team I’ve ever known to be acceptable to friends who follow is Liverpool

When I first arrived in Manchester many moons ago I would often wonder (to myself, never aloud!) if it was possible to tell if I was from Leeds by the way I walked or looked? What would they do if I walked the streets in a white top in a city famous for red & blue. I’m not crazy enough to find out but it did use to amuse me.

I arrived in Manchester 3 years into Fergusons leadership. They weren’t doing so well then and there was certainly no rich foreign owners. Leeds on the other hand were about to win the league (then Division One). Now Leeds languish in the middle of a nowhere league and Manchester rule the football world. It’s funny how things change.

A little break in the rain gives me just enough time to stop by old place of work. I don;t go in, just stand and stare at the building from across the road. The Portland Thistle hotel, the lowest level job I ever had (one of several chambermaid jobs in a 2 year working trek across the country) but it’s probably one of the few jobs I’ve ever loved doing.

I was 18 years old, just left home, no cares in the world, spending my tips on concerts and music. Looking at the outside of the building it doesn’t seem to have changed but I’m not going to test this theory by going in. I don’t want to burst the bubble of happy memories.

The hotel has five floors of rooms and I can picture young me very clearly campaigning to clean floors two and three. It didn’t take long to figure out the first floor was for those needing the cheapest rooms, people with no money left for tips. Floors four and five had the suites and was host to a few famous people. None of these would ever leave tips either. The floors I wanted (and got) were always full of those who had saved that little bit extra and were always grateful for your service. Always guaranteed to leave a tip however small. And thanks to a contract with American Airlines I was often left gifts of airhostesses flight packs. They got them on every flight and so always left them behind. I don’t think I bought any shampoo or shower gel for a year!

My all time favourite tip though was a goodie bag from a Clinique convention we held. The women whose room I cleaned gave me her pack as a token of thanks as she had so much of the stuff herself. It was worth around £150 then. Interestingly I still use their products to this day.

There are probably so many tales from this time, I wish I could remember them all. But these little ones are enough for today.



It’s a Ripon good town

This bank holiday I ticked off another city of the alphabet in my Visit 26 towns or cities starting with each letter of the alphabet challenge as part of the 101 things to do in 1001 days project ( and ticked off the letter R with Ripon, a small cathedral city just North of Harrogate, North Yorkshire. It is the fourth smallest city in England.

First impressions were that it is a beautiful town. Lots of open spaces and as we turn into summer lots of trees and flowers in bloom. One of the frustrating things about trying to get to Ripon is its lack of train station. Even my tiny housing estate has its own station but theirs closed down in 1967 and has yet to be reopened. Looking into the cities history it does mention ongoing council debates to have a station re-opened so things may change in the future. In the meantime it’s accessible by bus or car.

The bus stops right next door to a small shopping arcade which leads onto the market square. Visiting on a Sunday lunchtime we missed two key things that Ripon is famous for, its markets (on a Thursday) and the 9am Hornblower call. This happens every day and the horn is blown at all four corners of the square and has been a tradition for many centuries. It would be nice to go back again to see the markets but not being a morning lover I can’t imagine ever going to back early enough for the hornblowing!

We started our journey by looking around the Cathedral which is thought to date from 672AD. The cathedral is huge! And very beautiful, I could spend ages just staring at the brightly coloured stained glass windows. When we got there Sunday service was about to finish and we were welcomes in to look around but also listen to the last 10 minutes of the choir sing. With the choir in the background it made for a lovely accompaniment to the building.

There are three museums in the city but two of them are only open 1pm -4pm so we decided the next stop should be lunch and The Black Bull pub. What started as a quiet lunch soon got very busy with one poor barmaid trying to serve beer, take food orders and waitress until she eventually found some young lad to help her out. A usual pub chain menu, we ordered carbonara and lasagne. Both were absoluetly lovely. I’d complain about the portion size being a little on the small size but at £5.50 per meal it wasn’t really a problem.

Now onto the museums. The work house museum was fantastic. I’m a family tree enthusiast and currently working on tracing mine. I found out that one of my ancestors was in Hull workhouse. I know it affected her for the whole of her life and have wanted to find out more about work houses to discover how it affected her mental health. Even though it was a different place it’s one of few that are now a museum as many were turned into hospitals. Ripon museum has set out an old section into how it would be for inhabitants both for the poor and also tramps as they were treated differently. A fascinating journey for anyone looking into personal history

Next onto the police and prison museum. Another building that actually used to do what it now shows you the first thing you see is an old police telephone box. For anyone that’s seen Dr Who it’s pretty much the same but without the techie goodies inside. Inside the museum the old police cells are all turned into mini displays from old uniforms to a replica cell, how they were occupied for hard labour. The rooms of punishment tools was particularly interesting, everything from truncheons to manacles to a man trap! Then a room full of the history of handcuffs, one for finger printing and so much more. There really was a lot crammed into a small space. Not so good for the claustrophobic but I guess if I’d have been a criminal in olden times the cramped quarters would have worked as good punishment for me!

Last little museum was the courthouse museum. Each of these three museums cost £4 each but you could get an annual multi pass for £9. I think for the court house the £1 fee from our multi pass was about the right charge as it is basically 3 rooms with not a great deal to see.  However the staff there know so much local history it’s worth £3 just to talk to them! This happened at the work house museum too. I found out so much about the history there but also on how to further my own research. It’s this type of customer service that brings people back again and again.

Sadly we didn’t get to see the shops as the look around the city features took up most of our day. This is a rarity in some places and I would definitely like to come back again and see more of what they have to offer.

Radio Radio

I’m currently sat listening to my son on the radio. He has a 3 hour slot on internet radio and will soon be heard on South Leeds Community Radio. I’m so proud of him even if sometimes the songs are a little too metal for my liking. It’s even more special for me because when he was little I was told he may never speak!

It’s hard having a child on the Autistic spectrum, My son has what is known as a Receptive Language disorder which is mostly a communicative issue. At 18 months he would happily complete a 100-200 piece jigsaw but couldn’t say a word. He couldn’t point or give any physical instructions. Mostly he screamed, cried or threw things. A lot. I lost track of the amount of times I was smacked in the head with a car or whatever was to hand. I knew there was something wrong with him but didn’t know how to ask for help. I still had the doctor who told me to grow up when I asked for help after a breakdown. I’ve spoken of some family never listening when I asked for help. 
Luckily this time my son was at a local nursery and they’d faced the same problems as I had when he was there. So when it came to their yearly assessments they helped me get a referral to a specialist who gave the communication disorder diagnosis. I always remember that moment. They couldn’t understand why I wasn’t weeping and wailing at being given bad news. By this point he was 2 and a half and I’d spent nearly 2 years having to fend off bad mother remarks, being told I wasn’t bringing my child up right, that he was a badly behaved child that needed a good smacking. Finding out I was actually right was a huge relief rather than a trauma. Now I could finally answer back with confidence when someone questioned my sons behaviour.
The meeting itself was a bit bleak, he may never talk, he may never go to a mainstream school. But we were to have lessons and support to help. I spent one afternoon a week for a year sitting in a small room with a radio headset being taught how to play with my child from scratch. But in a way that would help him learn how to communicate. He soon picked up how to point and the screaming and hysterics stopped after that. Fort me I still talk with my hands. The visual techniques I picked up are still with me to this day . 
By the time he started primary school he could talk in stilted sentences and we had the support of classroom assistants and speech therapists in place to help him go through the school days. Each year brought new challenges. In the first year it took the teachers 6 months to get him to understand subtractions before throwing one away in frustration. 
The next year it was “he may never write an original piece of work”. I spent the summer introducing him to as many genres I could think if by book, film & Tv and when he returned to school I got called into the office to hear he’d written a lovely space story! (Geek mum so proud lol). Since then he’s gone on to do radio scriptwriting, write shows for local wrestling companies and is now in the process of writing his own LA Noir inspired film script. As stubborn as his mama he hates being told he can’t do something!
It’s not been easy at any point in studies but with tons of hard work he achieved enough to go to college to study radio and is now at university studying photography. and has just completed year two. The radio and photography give him an outlet to show his skills and a confidence he doesn’t always have in every day life. But every hurdle he’s been given has been smashed and long may it continue. 
Having a disadvantage doesn’t make life impossible , only harder. Anything can be achieve with desire and determination